Challenges for environmental governance: policy issue interdependencies might not lead to collaboration

Hedlund, Johanna, Nohrstedt, Daniel, Morrison, Tiffany, Moore, Michele-Lee, and Bodin, Örjan (2023) Challenges for environmental governance: policy issue interdependencies might not lead to collaboration. Sustainability Science, 18. pp. 219-234.

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Policy actors address complex environmental problems by engaging in multiple and often interdependent policy issues. Policy issue interdependencies imply that efforts by actors to address separate policy issues can either reinforce (‘win–win’) or counteract (‘trade-off’) each other. Thus, if interdependent issues are managed in isolation instead of being coordinated, the most effective and well-balanced solution to the underlying problem might never be realised. This study asks if reinforcing and counteracting interdependencies have different impacts on perception and collaboration. Our empirical study of collaborative water governance in the Norrström basin, Sweden, shows that policy actors often avoid collaborating when the policy issues exhibit reinforcing interdependencies. Our evidence indicates a perceived infeasibility of acting on reinforcing interdependencies. We also find that actors do not consider counteracting interdependencies (‘trade-offs’) at all when they engage in collaboration. Further, even though actors were aware of counteracting and reinforcing interdependencies, our analyses suggest they might be less aware of the former. These findings illustrate that actors either avoid each other due to policy issue interdependencies or, at best, ignore existing interdependencies when engaging in collaboration. Our study highlights the importance of problem perception in accomplishing integrated solutions to complex environmental problems, and of how understandings of different types of interdependencies shape collaboration in environmental governance.

Item ID: 74234
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1862-4057
Keywords: Policy issue interdependencies, Collaborative governance, Environmental governance, Reinforcing, Counteracting, ERGM
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Date Deposited: 18 May 2022 08:37
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4407 Policy and administration > 440704 Environment policy @ 100%
SEO Codes: 19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1902 Environmental policy, legislation and standards > 190299 Environmental policy, legislation and standards not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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